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Nothing more British than tax avoiding and drug dealing

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Troublemaker looks at the week's news from the Virgin Islands scandal to Tory PPE scams
Issue 2803
Andrew Fahie has officially been sworn in as the new Premier of the British Virgin Islands

Andrew Fahie being sworn in as the Premier of the British Virgin Islands

The premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a notorious British‑administered Caribbean tax haven is in trouble. US agents arrested him on drug trafficking and money laundering charges at an ­airport in Miami last week

The islands’ governor, John Rankin, confirmed in a ­statement that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents had arrested Andrew Fahie, the elected premier of the BVI. Meanwhile, foreign ­secretary Liz Truss, UK ­foreign secretary, said she was “appalled by these serious allegations”. Perhaps Truss should not feign such surprise.

More than 370,000 ­secretive companies are registered in the BVI, ­controlling hundreds of billions of dollars of assets around the world. The Panama Papers and other leaked documents revealed the web of corruption that included BVI dealings.

Tycoons from around the world use secretive ­holding companies to hide the ­ownership of valuable assets from public view, and to avoid tax. A criminal complaint and affidavit filed in Florida’s southern district court said Fahie was detained along with Oleanvine Maynard, manager of the BVI ports authority.

The court document said undercover DEA agents posing as cocaine traffickers trapped Fahie and Maynard after a series of secret meetings. These were said to be to discuss bribes in return for guaranteeing three-tonne cocaine shipments from Colombia through the BVI to the US.

In one of the meetings, according to the court filings, Fahie had pulled out a calculator to work out that his 12 percent share of the ­proceeds from selling the shipment in the US would be £6.25 million. Agents arrested Fahie after he had inspected over £500,000 in cash stashed in shopping bags, part of his supposed pay-off for helping the traffickers, the filing said. Maynard was arrested later in a separate sting after inspecting the same stash of cash.

Fahie made his name by lashing out at accusations of corruption at the highest levels of the BVI government and collusion with drug traffickers levelled by Rankin’s predecessor as governor. He will now face a trial. But the biggest villains, in the boardrooms and cabinet offices of the capitalist world, escape.

How much porn do MPs watch?

How often do MPs try to access pornography websites from the Commons? Those would be interesting figures in the wake of the revelations about Tory Neil Parish’s viewing habits last week.

And at one time you could find out the answer. But you can’t now. In 2017 cabinet minister Damian Green faced allegations of sexual harassment, which he denied. During the investigation, allegations emerged that pornography had been found on Green’s work computer when he was arrested over leaks in 2008. He later resigned as a minister.

At the time, as a result of Freedom of Information requests, you could see on the Commons website that, for example, in September 2016 there were 32,164 attempts made in 30 days to access pornography on parliamentary computers—roughly 1,070 a day. But if you try to access these figures now you will be taken to a message that says, “Information about access or attempted access to websites have been removed from these pages.

“Parliament’s cyber‑security team has concluded that, due to the constantly evolving nature of the risks to IT networks, the material may present a security risk if it were to remain publicly accessible on our website.”

How very convenient.

Priti Patel is set to hire private jets to send asylum seekers to Rwanda after airlines reportedly refused. The Home Secretary is reportedly furious that they won’t help her take away the rights of refugees. The Sun newspaper reports a source said, “Just like when we try to deport foreign national offenders, we know that some woke commercial airline executives will bend to the social justice warriors on Twitter. Because of this, we need to look at options of chartering flights.”

Vote Tory get a racist

A Tory candidate in this week’s local elections posted about removing immigrants. He also suggested Nadiya Hussein of TV’s Bake Off would not receive Islamophobic abuse if she “integrated more” and didn’t “wear a headdress”.  And he backed the bullying of MP Diane Abbott MP.

Stephen Antony Savva, a Conservative Party candidate in Brimsdown, Enfield, responded to one twitter post about immigration with the words, “How about the removal of ALL immigrants? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Just think of all the homes that would suddenly become available? All those school places? No-more have to wait an ion to be seen by a doctor”.

The Tory candidate was previously exposed in June 2018 as having called for Islam to be banned.

NatWest bank is raking in money during the cost of living crisis. It revealed last Friday that its pre-tax operating profit just for the first three months of the year was £1.2 billion. That was 40 percent up on the same period in the previous year. Chief executive Alison Rose will potentially grab a maximum bonus 43 percent higher than last year. The bank is also benefiting from buying back its shares. It buys them for 220.5p, very significantly below the 502p per share that the government paid in 2008 to bail it out.

PPE scams lead to raids on Tory peer 

Police raided the London home of Tory peer Michelle Mone last week as part of a fraud probe into over £203 million of PPE deals. The National Crime Agency is investigating deals by PPE Medpro, a company set up by a business associate of Baroness Mone and featured before in Troublemaker.

Mone’s £11 million London home, owned by an offshore company linked to her husband’s Isle of Man business, is one of a string of properties raided by NCA officers. Mone, from Glasgow, has denied any involvement with PPE Medpro. However, it was revealed that she referred PPE Medpro to the officer of fellow Tory peer Theodore Agnew.

At the time he was a Cabinet Officer minister responsible for the procurement of PPE. Anthony Page, PPE Medpro’s owner, was at Mone’s wedding in 2020. The NCA is currently investigating the award of contracts for supplying surgical gowns and masks to the NHS.

Britain admits using white phosphorus 

Defence minister James Heappey admitted last week that British soldiers deployed white phosphorus mortar rounds on training exercises in Kenya. He said they provided “illumination for training at night, as well as for smoke screening purposes”.

White phosphorus is not currently banned as a chemical weapon but has similar effects to some that are. Human Rights Watch says it is “notorious for the severity of the injuries it causes” and “deeply burns human flesh. If fragments of white phosphorus enter the bloodstream, they can lead to multiple organ failure,” the group notes. “Already‑dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed”.

Earlier this month Britain’s Defence Intelligence group condemned Russia’s use of white phosphorus in Ukraine and warned Vladimir Putin could use the weapon in fighting over Mariupol. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has complained to Nato about Russia’s use of white phosphorus.

Things they say

‘The Commons is like a boys’ prep school. The inmates haven’t quite got to 13’

Caroline Nokes, Tory MP

‘Politics attracts a certain type of particularly macho willy‑waving man’

Nokes again

‘I don’t think there’s necessarily a huge culture here, but I think it does have to be dealt with, and dealt with seriously’

Porn-watching MP Neil Parish explaining how the porn‑watching MPs should be dealt with

‘I’m sorry you married a fucking idiot’

Now former Tory MP Neil Parish, who was caught watching pornography in the Commons, apologises to his wife

‘Funnily enough it was tractors I was looking at’

Parish explains how he found himself sitting in the commons chamber looking at pornography

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